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Friday, 30 December 2011

Necking! Oh and Happy New Year!

Some thoughts on necks … now it looks as if we will be producing them as well as pickups! Right, the biggest con out is the ‘double acting’ truss rod … it’s completely pointless. In all my years building and repairing guitars I have never seen a guitar with a neck that wants to bow back of its own accord: away from the pull of those six strings. Necks bow forward due to string tension; they twist due to either poor sawing/seasoning of the timber, and the do get curved backward by a poor fret job ‘wedging’ open narrow fret slots. But they don’t just take it into their grain to go against physics! A ‘dual acting truss rod won’t help a twisted neck so it’s inly use is after a poor fret job or to correct a manufacturing defect. So the point of a dual acting truss rod was what exactly? It’s a marketing ploy … simple as that.

Now I’m often asked about fretboard material and fret height. Well for the look I adore a one piece maple neck/fingerboard on a Strat or Tele … but beware of modern high gloss poly finishes on a maple fingerboard … they drag can the fingers like nitro never did, and are so hard that you will never wear a comfortable patina on them. Big old frets can help … kinda gets you up and away from the board like a mild form of scalloping … but vintage frets and a poly coated board will stickkkkk. I would chose a ‘rosewood’ board on a low end neck to do away with the problem. By the way, very few guitars have real rosewood fingerboards these days … the wood’s too rare and expensive. There are a number of ‘rosewood like’ woods in use that masquerade as the real thing, and in truth are every bit as hard wearing.

As for frets … well I personally like big-ass ‘railroad track’ fretwire … can cause heavy players to have intonation problems … but I find most people play faster and cleaner on big wire.